After missing out on Tommy Kahnle, could Red Sox pursue former Blue Jays closer Ken Giles in free agency?

Before signing a two-year deal with the Dodgers late last month, right-handed reliever Tommy Kahnle nearly agreed to a contract with the Red Sox. So much so that “the Red Sox were considered the runner-up” for the 31-year-old’s services, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Kahnle, who officially signed a two-year, $4.75 million pact with Los Angeles on December 29, will likely miss the entirety of the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August. So, the Dodgers will essentially be paying the veteran hurler to rehab his elbow in his first year with the club in hopes that he will be a quality contributor out of the their bullpen in 2022.

That being said, the Red Sox presumably had this same plan in mind in their pursuit of Kahnle as well. And as noted by Cotillo, their pursuit of the righty “suggests that the club is looking at a wide variety of options to improve its pitching depth, including arms that won’t help in 2021.”

One of those arms available that won’t be immediately ready to help in 2021 would be former Phillies, Astros, and Blue Jays closer Ken Giles.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Giles “figures to sign the type of two-year deal that teams frequently award pitchers recovering from an elbow reconstruction.” And he “might appeal to clubs that plan to be more competitive and/or financially flexible in ’22, as well as those that might lose their closer to free agency.” 

The 30-year-old right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery on September 30 after making just four appearances out of the Toronto bullpen in 2020.

The year before, his first full season with the Jays, Giles put together a solid 2019 campaign, posting a 1.87 ERA and .574 OPS against over 53 appearances and 53 innings of work while converting 23 of a possible 24 save opportunities.

Right elbow inflammation did cost Giles a decent chunk of time in July, which ultimately prevented the Blue Jays from trading the former seventh-round pick ahead of the 2019 trade deadline.

Around that same time, the Red Sox were reportedly one of several teams in the mix for potentially acquiring Giles.

Nothing may have happened then, and Boston’s baseball operations department may be under new leadership now, but there certainly is a potential match to be made here.

For starters, fellow righty Matt Barnes, who at the moment is slated to be the Sox’ closer this coming season, is set to become a free agent for the first time next winter.

Though Barnes has publicly stated that he is interested in signing an extension with Boston, bringing in Giles on a two-year deal could prove to be an effective contingency plan for 2022.

On top of that, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said in an interview with WEEI last week that “there’s a lot of players” on his list of potential offseason additions.

“Part of that is a function of where we are, where there’s a lot of ways we can improve. Part of that is how we’re looking to improve,” explained Bloom. “In the short-term, we have touched base with so many different players who we think could help us and fit us. Pitching, obviously, but also on the position player side. I think there’s different ways we can improve and different players we can bring in to help us. We also don’t want to take our eye off of the ball that, at the end of the day, we’re not just looking to put a little plaster in here and patch some holes. We’re looking to take this organization back to where we can compete for championships consistently year in and year out. That means we have to be open to different moves, different acquisitions that might not be just about 2021. I think we have enough talent here that we should be able to compete and win along the way there. But there are some things we’ve explored and some things we’ve kicked around that might be able to impact us even more in future years than they might be in 2021.”

Bringing in Giles would appear to fit the description of a move “that might not just be about 2021” for the Red Sox since, as mentioned before, he will miss all of this year while recovering and rehabbing from Tommy John.

Again, this is just a mere suggestion. I am not implying that the Red Sox will sign or even have any serious interest in signing Giles at some point this winter. We will have to wait and see what happens on that front.

Also, for what it’s worth, the Padres have reportedly traded speedy outfielder Greg Allen to the Yankees, so he will remain on another club’s 40-man roster for the time being.

(Photo of Ken Giles: Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox among teams who have expressed ‘initial interest’ in free-agent right-hander Matt Shoemaker, per report

The Red Sox are one of several teams to express ‘initial interest’ in free-agent right-hander Matt Shoemaker, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported late Sunday night.

Shoemaker, who turned 34 in September, is coming off a 2020 season in which he posted a 4.71 ERA and 5.95 FIP over six starts and 28 2/3 innings pitched for the Blue Jays.

The Michigan native was limited to just six outings this year on account of hitting the injured list in late August due to right shoulder inflammation, but he was able to return to the mound a month later. He even got the nod for Toronto in Game 1 of the Wild Card series against the Rays in which he scattered two hits over three scoreless frames.

A former undrafted free agent who signed with the Angels in 2008, Shoemaker has proven to be a solid middle to back-end of the rotation caliber starting pitcher when healthy. That’s the thing, though. He has struggled to stay on the field these past few years.

Prior to the 2020 season, the veteran righty got off to a roaring start with the Jays in 2019, allowing just seven runs (five earned) through his first four outings and 25 2/3 innings of the year (1.75 ERA).

In what was his fifth start of the year against the Athletics on April 20, Shoemaker got caught in a rundown and wound up spraining his left knee. Nine days later, he underwent ACL reconstruction as well as medial meniscus repair, and his season was over just like that.

Again, when he is healthy, Shoemaker, who works with a split-finger fastball, sinker, four-seam fastball, slider, and curveball, has proven to be effective at the major-league level.

The Red Sox are a club in desperate need of starting pitching help, so taking a flier, if you want to call it that, on someone of Shoemaker’s caliber certainly makes sense. Even more so when you consider the fact that the Jays recently locked up left-hander Robbie Ray on a one-year, $8 million deal earlier this week.

Red Sox Held Emotional Team Meeting Before Postponing Game Against Blue Jays on Thursday To Protest Jacob Blake Shooting

In following Jackie Bradley Jr.’s lead to not play their game against the Blue Jays on Thursday, the Red Sox collectively made a statement of utmost significance. That being, ‘Things need to change in the United States.’

Despite how many positive qualities this country has, it has its fair share of negative ones as well. That much has been on full display in the days following the August 23 shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Blake, a 29-year-old Black male, was shot by police in the back seven times, which according to his father has left him paralyzed from the waist down.

That incident has spurred outrage throughout several professional sports leagues in the United States and has resulted in NBA and NHL playoff games and WNBA, MLS, and Major League Baseball regular season games being postponed as a sign of protest from players.

In the Red Sox’ case, as previously mentioned, Bradley Jr. made the choice to not play on Thursday. As the lone Black player on Boston’s active roster, Bradley Jr., as well as first base coach Tom Goodwin, was fine if the rest of the team played. That did not happen, however, as the contest was eventually called off.

Prior to making that important decision as a group, Red Sox players and staff held a meeting at around 4 p.m. eastern time in the visitor’s clubhouse at Sahlen Field to talk things over. Among the topics that were discussed, Bradley Jr., Goodwin, and assistant athletic trainer Brandon Henry went into detail about what they have had to endure as Black men in the U.S.

“It was emotional,” a choked up Ron Roenicke said of the meeting during a Zoom call with reporters. “I’m listening to Jackie, I got tears in my eyes. I’m listening to Goody, I got tears in my eyes. This is really an important time in our country… These guys have a platform to be able to discuss some things that are serious issues in our country that we need to straighten out.

“We know how important baseball is…but we know the issues in life are more important,” the Sox manager added. “Listening to Goody and Jackie talk, it makes a big difference in our lives and it should make a difference in everybody’s lives. If you’re a kid and you turn on the TV tonight and you don’t see that we’re playing and you ask your parents ‘Why aren’t the Red Sox playing?’ I hope the parents have a serious discussion with their kids and tell them what’s going on. Explain what’s going on, because we need to discuss these things more and we need to listen more. That’s the only way that we’re going to change.”

Red Sox Decide Against Playing Blue Jays on Thursday in Wake of Jacob Blake Shooting

The Red Sox have decided not to play their game against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Thursday night, according to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams.

This news comes in the wake of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, getting shot in the back seven times and being left paralyzed from the waist down by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin this past Sunday.

That incident has led to a chain of boycotts among professional sports teams in the United States that began when the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the floor in their playoff game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.

The Bucks’ actions resulted in all other NBA playoff games, as well as three Major League Baseball games, being postponed. Had the Red Sox played the Blue Jays at a later time on Wednesday, a fourth game might have been pushed back, too.

Instead, the Sox did play the Jays at Sahlen Field in Buffalo in the middle game of what was a three-game series that will now be made up at a later date.

Per FlightAware, the Red Sox will be departing from Buffalo early Friday morning to head back to Boston, where they will open up a three-game weekend series against the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals later that day.

Red Sox Muster Just Three Hits, Go Down Quietly in 9-1 Loss To Blue Jays in Buffalo

On a rain-soaked Wednesday night in Buffalo, the Red Sox kicked off the second half of the 2020 season by falling to the Blue Jays by a final score of 9-1 to fall to 10-21 on the year.

Colten Brewer made his third start and 10th overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one, as he was filling on for the cramped up Nathan Eovaldi.

Coming off a fine outing in his last time out against the Orioles, the right-hander struggled this time around, surrendering four runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

The first pair of those Toronto tallies scored off Brewer came on a pair of solo home runs from Randal Grichuk and Rowdy Tellez in the bottom halves of the first and second.

The other two came in the fourth, when after yielding a leadoff double to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Brewer served up another homer, this one good for two runs, to Tellez off a hanging 1-1, 76 mph curveball towards the inner half of the plate.

Tellez’ second blast of the night, which was his ninth in 20 career game against the Red Sox, put the Jays up 4-0.

Brewer’s evening came to a close shortly thereafter, as he recorded the first two outs of the frame before walking old friend Santiago Espinal on five pitches and getting the hook from Sox manager Ron Roenicke.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 80 (49 strikes), the 27-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 41% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing four swings-and-misses with the pitch while topping out at 95.6 mph with it.

Hit with his second losing decision of the year later on while raising his ERA to 4.57, Brewer’s next start, if he does get one that is, would likely come against the Braves back in Boston sometime next week.

In relief of Brewer, Ryan Weber got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen and came into a four-run game with a runner on first and one out to get in the bottom of the fourth.

The 29-year-old got that out pretty easily, and he was also lights out in the fifth and sixth innings before running into a significant amount of trouble in the seventh.

There, Weber allowed the first three hitters he faced to reach base, resulting in another Blue Jays run crossing the plate to make it a 5-1 contest.

A lineout off the bat of Travis Shaw would mark the end of Weber’s outing, and in came Austin Brice who immediately walked Teosar Hernandez on six pitches to fill the bases for Guerrero Jr.

The Toronto phenom took full advantage of the opportunity that had been laid out before him, as he took a 3-0, 94 mph sinker from Brice and ripped a bases-clearing, three-run double down the left field line. Just like that, the Jays were up 8-1.

A Tellez RBI single moments later brought in Guerrero Jr. from second and put the Sox in an eight-run hole.

All in all, Boston pitching gave up five runs in the seventh inning. Three of those runs were charged to Weber, the other two to Brice.

Left-hander Josh Osich did manage to toss a scoreless ninth to keep the eight-run deficit intact, but by then the damage had already been done.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against rookie right-hander Julian Merryweather for the Blue Jays, who was making just his second career major-league start on Wednesday.

To put it simply, Merryweather impressed by keeping the Boston bats off the scoreboard over the first two innings while throwing strikes 64% of the time.

It wasn’t until the top of the fourth when the Sox offense finally got it going. There, with Shun Yamaguchi on the hill for Toronto, Mitch Moreland stayed hot by crushing his eighth big fly off the season deep to the opposite field off a two-out, first pitch 84 mph changeup on the outer half of the plate.

As it would later turn out, though, Moreland’s solo blast would prove to be the only offense the Red Sox could muster over nine frustrating innings on Wednesday.

In fact, Moreland’s homer was one of just three hits for the Sox all night, as 9-1 would go on to be your final score in this one.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Alex Verdugo’s 14-game hitting streak has come to an end following the 24-year-old’s 0-for-4 night at the plate.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game set against the Blue Jays on Thursday night.

Right-hander Chris Mazza will get the start for Boston, while veteran left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu will do the same for Toronto.

Mazza, who will be making his second start of the year for the Sox, will need to be added to the active roster prior to first pitch, which is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.

Red Sox Lineup: Michael Chavis Batting Ninth, Starting at Second Base in Second of Three Against Blue Jays in Buffalo

For the first time since last June, Michael Chavis is batting out of the nine-hole for the Red Sox in Wednesday’s game against the Blue Jays in Buffalo.

The 25-year-old will be starting at second base as he enters the week on a bit of a cold streak. Since going 2-for-2 off the bench on August 13, he is 2-for-his-last-20 at the plate with two RBI, one walk, and 12 strikeouts.

Per FanGraphs, Chavis has struck out nearly 43% of the time this season, which is the highest rate in the American League among hitters with at least 60 plate appearances thus far.

Most recently, the Georgia native fanned thrice against the Orioles on Sunday, which came five days after he fanned five times in five trips to the plate against the Phillies last Tuesday.

“You have one of those games where everything goes wrong and you can’t let it wipe out all the hard work and the point you got to recently,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said in regards to Chavis last week. “Because I think he has been swinging the bat a lot better… You’ve got to be able to forget some things. It’s a very humbling game.”

In those three games (two starts) out of the nine-hole last season, Chavis accrued nine plate appearances in that spot and showed signs of success, slashing .375/.444/.625 with two doubles, one walk, and two runs scored.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind right-hander Colten Brewer and against Blue Jays rookie right-hander Julian Merryweather, who Toronto got from Cleveland in exchange for Josh Donaldson back in 2018, to begin things on Wednesday night:

First pitch is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for their second straight win in Buffalo.

Six-Run Sixth Inning Propels Red Sox To 9-7 Victory Over Blue Jays in Buffalo

For the first time since 1917, the Red Sox played a game in Buffalo, NY on Tuesday and were able to halt a mini two-game losing streak with a 9-7 victory over the Blue Jays to improve to 10-20 on the year.

Kyle Hart made his third start of the season for Boston since being recalled on August 13, and unlike his last time out against the Phillies, he took a step back in this one.

That being the case because over just 3 1/3 innings pitched, the rookie left-hander was charged with six runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and three walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The first four of those Toronto tallies came right away in the bottom half of the first, when after filling the bases with three of the first four hitters he faced, Hart yielded a two-run double to Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Moments later, Danny Jansen followed suit by ripping a two-run single off the Sox starter to left field, but wound up getting gunned down at second base by Christian Vazquez to end the inning.

After dancing his way around some danger in the second and third, Hart ran into more trouble in the bottom half of the fourth, a frame he would not be able to finish.

There, Hart put runners on first and second with a one-out single and walk, which in turn marked the end of his outing and made way for Phillips Valdez to enter.

Making his 12th appearance of the year, Valdez inherited those two runners and allowed both of them to score on a two-run base knock off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., thus closing the book on Hart’s evening. Fortunately, the 28-year-old was able to escape the fourth without giving anything else up while also working a scoreless bottom of the fifth.

From there, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez stranded a total of three base runners over two scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, while Ryan Brasier tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and Matt Barnes served up a solo shot to Teoscar Hernandez in the ninth but held on to notch the save and the 9-7 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Blue Jays right-hander Chase Anderson, someone they could only push across one run against back on August 8.

This time around, the Boston bats got to Anderson starting in their half of the second when Xander Bogaerts led off with a hard-hit double up the middle and Mitch Moreland drove him in on an RBI single to center field.

Fast forward to the fourth, and the Bogaerts-Moreland combination struck once more as the former led the inning off with a single this time and the latter followed with a run-scoring double off of Anderson.

A passed ball later in the inning allowed Moreland to move up 90 feet to third base, and Jackie Bradley Jr. took full advantage of that mistake committed by the Blue Jays by plating the first baseman on an infield single.

Toronto did manage to tack on two runs of their own in the fourth to re-take the three-run lead they previously had, but that did not stop the Sox offense from erupting in the sixth.

It started with a leadoff walk drawn by Moreland, which would result in the Jays making a pitching change that saw Wilmer Font take over for Anderson.

Christian Vazquez greeted the new reliever by lacing a sharply-hit double over Teoscar Hernandez’s head in deep center field to advance Moreland up to third.

With one out and two runners in scoring position, Bradley Jr. followed Vazquez’s lead and drove in Moreland on an RBI single.

As the lineup was about to flip back over, Jose Peraza took a 95 mph fastball from Font off his wrist and the bases were full for leadoff man Alex Verdugo.

Having already extending his hitting streak to 14 games, Verdugo proceeded to rip a run-scoring single to right field to score Vazquez and keep the bases loaded for Rafael Devers.

Devers, up against new Blue Jays reliever A.J. Cole, did not waste too much time in clearing the bases, as the 23-year-old took a 3-2, 82 mph slider from the right-hander and absolutely tattooed a three-run triple down the right field line.

Per Statcast, Devers’ fifth career triple had an exit velocity of 110.2 mph off the bat. It also put the Red Sox up 8-6, and J.D. Martinez made it a 9-6 contest with a sacrifice fly.

By the time the final out of the top of the sixth was recorded, the Red Sox had plated six runs and sent 10 hitters to the plate.

As it would later turn out, that sixth inning would be all the Red Sox would need to top the Blue Jays on Tuesday, with 9-7 going on to be your final score.

Some notes and observations from this win:

It’s tough to see Kyle Hart getting another start the next time through the rotation given his numbers in the majors thus far, as The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham points out:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday night.

Right-hander Colten Brewer will get the start for Boston in place of Nathan Eovaldi, who is dealing with a calf cramp, while the Blue Jays have yet to name a starter.

In his last time out against the Orioles last Friday, Brewer put together four scoreless innings of work in his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season.

With the PawSox last year, the 27-year-old actually made two appearances at Sahlen Field right and tossed 1 1/3 total total shutout innings of relief. He also pitched a perfect fifth inning against the Blue Jays back on August 7.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to start the second half of the season on a positive note.

Red Sox Right-Hander Nathan Eovaldi Scratched From Next Start Due To Calf Cramp

Nathan Eovaldi will not be making his seventh start of the season for the Red Sox on Wednesday as originally scheduled. Instead, the right-hander’s next outing has been pushed back to Saturday due to a right calf cramp.

With Eovaldi scratched, fellow righty Colten Brewer will start in his place, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke announced Tuesday.

“Nate will not start tomorrow,” Roenicke said via Zoom. “We’re going to start Brewer in his place. The reason is Nate’s calf cramped up on him a couple days ago and it’s still there some. So, we’re going to back him up to Saturday. He’s going to throw a bullpen today, I think, and then go Saturday.”

Per Roenicke, Eovaldi first experienced this issue two to three days ago, when after going out to play long toss, the 30-year-old’s calf began to cramp.

“We didn’t think it was any big deal,” the Sox skipper added. “But, the next day he still felt it some, so we decided to try to push him back.”

Eovaldi is coming off an outing in which he held the Orioles to just one run on five hits, one walk, and six strikeouts over seven quality innings of work last Thursday.

The Red Sox are 4-2 in games started by Eovaldi this season and 5-18 in all others.

Had Eovaldi not been scratched from Wednesday’s contest against Toronto, Brewer would have likely been a top candidate to start for Boston on Thursday seeing how he tossed four scoreless frames against Baltimore in his second start of the year last Friday.

However, the 27-year-old will now be getting the ball on Wednesday, meaning the Sox have to identify someone else to start in what will be the finale of this three-game set against the Jays on Thursday.

“Right now, we know who we’re probably going to start in that game,” Roenicke said. “We’ll see what happens these two days and see if that changes.”

So far this season, the Red Sox have used 11 different pitchers to start a game. That number could increase to 12 depending on who Thursday’s starter will be.

Red Sox Lineup: Alex Verdugo Leading off in First of Three Against Blue Jays in Buffalo

After enjoying their first off day in more than two weeks on Monday, the 9-20 Red Sox will open up a three-game series against the 14-13 Blue Jays in Buffalo on Tuesday night. For Boston, it will be their first time playing in Buffalo since 1917.

Rookie left-hander Kyle Hart will be making his third start of the season for the Sox, and he’ll be opposed by veteran right-hander Chase Anderson for the Jays.

Hart, who brings with him an 11.12 ERA into Monday’s contest, has yet to face the Blue Jays in his young career, while Anderson, who brings with him a 2.79 ERA, will be facing off against the Red Sox for the second time this season. The 32-year-old held Boston to one run over three innings pitched in his 2020 debut back on August 8, a game Toronto won by a final score of 2-1.

Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Hart and against Anderson to begin things on Tuesday:

With a right-hander on the mound for the Jays, Alex Verdugo is back in the lineup, starting in left field, and batting out of the leadoff spot, while Mitch Moreland is starting at first base and hitting fifth.

Among these nine hitters, Verdugo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Jose Peraza have all taken Anderson deep before in their careers.

In terms of who has seen the Toronto starter best, Peraza has six hits in 18 prior at-bats against Anderson, good for a .333 batting average.

First pitch from Sahlen Field Tuesday is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for win No. 10 as the halfway point of the season nears.

Red Sox’ Mitch Moreland Received Extra Motivation From Ron Roenicke Prior to Walking off Blue Jays on Sunday

The Red Sox were one out away from playing in their first extra-inning game this season against the Blue Jays.

Instead, Mitch Moreland had other ideas in mind, as he took a first-pitch 86 mph slider from Toronto reliever Thomas Hatch and tattooed it 394 feet over everything in left field for his second home run of the day, with this one being good for two runs and a walk-off, 5-3 victory.

Going into that at-bat, the 34-year-old had an incentive to walk it off for his side thanks to this season’s rules for extra-inning games. That being, each team will begin each extra inning with a runner on second base.

With that in mind, had Moreland made the last out of the ninth inning, he would have hat to been that runner at second base to begin things in the bottom half of the tenth.

Fortunately for Moreland, who has a history of leg issues, and the Red Sox, that scenario never played out in real time, but the first baseman still joked about it during his postgame media availability on Sunday.

“I got a good pep talk from (Roenicke) right before I went up there,” said Moreland. “He said if I made the last out that I had to be the base runner the next inning at second. I knew I needed to make something happen.”

Indeed, the 2018 American League All-Star made something happen, as he launched his team-leading sixth home run in a crucial moment to close out the weekend and give the Red Sox their sixth win of the 2020 season.